Going Viral

Good morning! It’s flu season, so what better time to bring up the idea of “going viral”? See what I did there?

Anyway, the statement is apt, since the concept of going viral, meaning that something you post online (usually a video, but could include a photo, a manifesto, an app, or even a conspiracy theory) is passed around and shared by enough people that in a relatively short period of time, which could range from a day or two or a couple of months depending on who you talk to, a relatively large number of people (usually 1,000,000 is considered a threshold, perhaps hearkening to the days of the Gold and Platinum Record certifications) have seen it, heard it, watched it, or read it.

On the internet, the idea of going viral is most often connected with videos. There may be some debate about this (hey, debate is healthy) but the first viral video was considered to be “Lazy Sunday” which was a sketch performed on Saturday Night Live in December 2005. After being posted on YouTube, it was seen by over 5 million people, before NBC claimed copyright and made them take it down. Luckily, you can watch it here on the NBC website.

Although a lot of us tend to think that viral videos are usually associated with dancing babies, or children still dopey from a dentist visit, there have been many viral videos that are far more meaningful. In fact, the “most viral video” award probably goes to “Invisible Children” a 2012 video detailing the plight of imprisoned and exploited children in Uganda. It has been viewed over 100 million times.

Going viral may bring fame, and it can bring fortune as well. Monetizing content can happen in many ways, including through ad placements associated with the content, licensing its use to others, and merchandising. Even without a cash flow, a viral product will draw attention to the person, product or organization with which it is associated, and this can be worth its weight in gold.

Because of the utility of going viral, a lot of advice has appeared online purporting to give you a leg up on making your own content viral. For example, according to the ProBlogger Podcast, you can use a handy tool to take a blog post and turn it into a Facebook video that’s sure to be seen by the masses. Or, by following this step-by-step guide, you can make your visual storytelling go viral in no time.

Of course, some may argue that if the experts who advise us on how to get our content to go viral are so sure of their methods, why haven’t they figured out how to use their own tips to their own advantage. Kind of like the people who travel the country giving webinars on how to make killer apps or penetrate the mysteries of personal investing (or for that matter setting up universities to teach real estate tricks, like one celebrity did awhile back). If they know so much about how I can make money following their instructions, why are they wasting time putting on seminars? I can’t answer this question, but while you ponder it, I’d love for you to look at this compilation of great cat videos. Enjoy!